Choosing the right public relations (PR) agency to work with can be a daunting prospect. You want to select an agency that will work with you—and for you—to get the best return on investment for your company. While most PR agencies work to achieve similar outcomes, the way that they operate can differ significantly, and this can affect the success of your campaigns.
It can be hard to know which agency is right for you until you’re working with the team. By then, however, you may risk wasting time and resources on campaigns that don’t deliver the results you’re looking for. So how can you decide which PR agency is right for your business before it gets to that point?
There are three key things you should consider before engaging a PR agency:
1. Understand what you want to achieve: it’s important to start with the end in mind so you can take the right steps from the start. When choosing a PR agency, this means understanding what you want to achieve from your PR strategy. Your primary goal may be to create brand awareness or to improve your company’s reputation, or to increase sales and generate more leads for the company. These goals require a different approach and your chosen agency should be able to demonstrate how they’ll successfully hit those goals for you. If the agency understands your expectations and can propose a strategy that will meet those expectations, then the relationship is likely to be a good fit.
2. Know who you want to reach: understanding and identifying your target market is critical in developing a PR strategy. While your PR agency can help you determine the best ways to reach your target audience, you need to know who you want to speak to and why. Without knowing who you want to reach, you can confuse your messaging and fall short of the goals you want to achieve.
3. Have clear messaging: knowing the top three-to-five messages you want your audience to understand is essential. Identifying the most important elements of your business that potential customers should know, including how you can help them solve business challenges or industry pain points, will help you to reach your desired audience. While your PR agency can help you finesse the specific messaging and how to get in front of the right prospects, it’s essential that you can identify what you want potential customers or partners to know about you.
Once you have these three elements in place, you can start to consider what to look for in the right PR partner. This can include:
Consultants: when you engage a PR agency, you’re engaging a team of consultants with the expertise and specialist knowledge you need to help your business. Look for an agency that acts as an extension of your team, but isn’t full of ‘yes men’. Your PR agency shouldn’t just take your briefs and execute them. For maximum value, you need a team that will challenge your assumptions, provide strategic counsel, and, sometimes, tell you what you don’t want to hear. This should always be done in the spirit of collaboration and honesty, with the organisation’s goals in mind.
Understanding: while you want to work with an agency that has experience, it’s important that you look for an agency that has relevant experience. The right agency will understand your industry, challenges, and pain points and, more importantly, how to address them. If you’re a B2B tech company, then a PR agency that usually works with consumer goods and lifestyle products may not help you meet your target audience.
Values: finding a PR agency that aligns with your values will help ensure you’re cooperating well and working for the same end goal. For example, if your team is available and working 24 hours a day, you may want to find out whether your chosen agency will also make teams available when you need them. Alternatively, if your company supports flexible working and a good work-life balance, engaging the services of an agency that works their employees from 7am to 7pm may not be the right cultural fit.
The benefits of working with a great PR agency can include increased positive media coverage, growing brand awareness, and rising sales. But choosing the right PR agency can be as tricky and as rife with pitfalls as finding the right romantic partner. Both require careful vetting, a trial period with a focus on outcomes, and a certain X factor that is hard to define but easy to spot.
For companies choosing a PR firm, the X factor tends to be that extra value that the firm can add, the rapport you can create with the team members, and the cultural fit that makes working together feel seamless as you watch the results come in. If you’re ready to start your PR journey with the right agency, contact The Recognition Group today.
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